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Wednesday, October 31, 2012
It may be recalled that King Midas ( story based on an ancient King in Asia Minor , now Turkey , with a city called Midas city near where is Gordian where Alexander cut the Gordian's knot-, 60km from Ankara ) had to surrender the power of turning anything he touched into gold when he touched his own daughter .But India breaks all natural laws all across the political spectrum say in the case of social entrepreneur Nitin Gadkari. Every one has Midas touch.
I had read in 2006 a piece in Asian Age describing Hooda a real state entrepreneur .Below are some details from a Hindu article.But what happens when highly inflated land and property values in India and GDPs start collapsing .A flat in IFS apartments is valued at 1.5 crore , but its annual rent is about 50 lakhs .At 10% return it should be 15 lakhs .High realty valuation was a main reason for the economic malaise in south east Asia in late 1990s and the trigger for the current housing bubble and recession in USA.Behind Haryana land boom, the Midas touch of HoodaSHALINI SINGH Hindu 31X12http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/behind-haryana-land-boom-the-midas-touch-of-hooda/article4048394.eceRobert Vadra may be the most talked about property developer in Haryana but the emergence of links between the man who sold Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law his first plot of land and Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has shone a spotlight on the crucial role played by the Congress-run government in turning realty in the State into a business worth thousands of crores of rupees.Records of all licences granted by the Haryana government from 1981 till September 27, 2012, tell a compelling story — a story of political alchemy in which farmland turns into gold for all those fortunate enough to acquire acreage and the permission required to undertake commercial development on it.In the 23 years preceding Mr. Hooda's rise to power, successive Chief Ministers granted licences for a total of just 8,550.32 acres. But during the seven-and-a-half years he has been Chief Minister, licences for the development of a staggering 20,549.63 acres of land have been granted — an increase of nearly 150 per cent.Mr. Hooda has already come under media scrutiny following his decision to transfer IAS whistleblower Ashok Khemka from the State's land registration office shortly after he began a probe into alleged irregularities in property dealings involving real estate major DLF and Mr. Vadra.Last week, Business Standard reported that the 3.53-acre plot of land in Manesar whose purchase in January 2008 marked the entry of Mr. Vadra into the real estate business belonged to a company whose owner, Satyanand Yajee, is a long-standing associate of Mr. Hooda. If the regulatory filings made by Mr. Vadra's company, Skylight Hospitality, are correct, Mr. Yajee was a benevolent seller. He did not cash the cheque he received from Mr. Vadra until after the latter obtained a licence changing the plot's land use to commercial and sold it to DLF for a hefty profit — something no property dealer would normally do.Congress spokespersons were at pains to deny favouritism by the State government in the speedy grant of the Manesar licence to Mr. Vadra and they are correct. Skylight is not the only beneficiary of official help: It turns out that Mr. Hooda, who took office in March 2005, has allocated licences to over 350 real estate firms of all sizes, most of which were unknown or had no experience whatsoever in property development.Of the total 20,549.63 acres that were licensed, 7,733.68 acres were in Gurgaon, 2,266.91 acres in Faridabad and 10,569.37 acres in the rest of Haryana. Commercial land use accounted for 984.83 acres, group housing 5,867.99 acres, and plots 13,303.51 acres. Surprisingly, Information Technology projects accounted for a mere 409.21 acres.A questionnaire emailed to the Chief Minister's office seeking information on Mr. Hooda's land allotment policy went unanswered till the time of going to press.Rise of BPTPCountrywide Promoters (BPTP) with roughly 1,635 acres was the single largest beneficiary, followed by Ansals (1,540 acres), Intime Promoters (1055.84 acres), Omaxe (903 acres), Unitech (830 acres), Parsvnath (716.56 acres), Ireo (651 acres), Vatika (631 acres), DLF (568 acres), Emaar-MGF (514 acres), Vipul (214 acres), Sonika Properties (Rohtak) (381 acres), Ambience (318 acres), Ramprastha (298 acres), Bestech (208 acres), Uddar Gagan Properties (Rohtak) (229 acres) and Baderwals (105 acres). Sonika and Uddar Gagan are subsidiaries of the Suncity Group owned by Zee.Builders like BPTP, Omaxe, and Parsvnath have made huge gains in Haryana since 2005. Ireo, which belongs to a close relative of an influential BJP politician, and Bestech, which is owned by one Dharmendra Bhandari, have also become big brands in Haryana overnight. Countrywide Promoters (BPTP), incorporated as Rainbow Promoters Pvt Ltd in 1996 by Kabul Chawla, was an unknown builder till 2005. From a Najafgarh Road residential address, Mr Chawla now lives on Delhi's ultra plush Amrita Shergill Marg in a property said to be valued in the region of Rs. 300 crore.Baderwals, along with DLF, is also now in the public eye for having given unsecured loans to Mr. Vadra, according to publicly available balance sheets of his companies.Other companies like Microtek (which makes inverters) and DD Motors (which owns several Maruti showrooms in Delhi) appear to have obtained licences without any expertise in construction. According to an amendment to an April 24, 2007 memo issued the very next day by the Haryana Town and Country Planning Department (TCP), a reputed coloniser eligible for the grant of licence is "one who has already obtained licence under the Haryana Development & Regulation of Urban Areas Act, 1975 for setting up of a colony and in case of collaboration agreement with a private developer not being licensee of the Department and who is applying for obtaining the licence for the first time." This amendment helped to widen the eligibility criteria, ensuring that lack of construction expertise would not be a deterrent in obtaining licences.Violations overlookedThe data further reveals that the Hooda government had no problem renewing many of these licences despite builders failing to complete their work on time as stipulated. This allowed non-performing builders to profiteer by squatting on a precious resource at the cost of the end-user. Other anomalies in licence allocation abound, as is illustrated by the award of 14.793 acres of disputed land in sector 106 of Gurgaon to BPTP, allotted as per licence LC-1017A – No 18 on February 2, 2008. Its owner, Surinder Pal Beniwal had filed a complaint with the Haryana TCP against BPTP's Countrywide Promoters on March 20, 2007, over non-payment of the agreed sale amount. In response, the TCP department wrote to Countrywide Promoters on April 23, 2007 that "the licence will be considered on the land free from all encumbrances." Despite this or the legal dispute that followed, BPTP's licence was first awarded and then even renewed, overlooking the fact that it has still not obtained possession of the land or begun any construction activity.Licensees like Juventus, Selene and Mariana Infrastructure all have a common Connaught Place address and are linked to the publicly listed Indiabulls Group, which has a stated net worth of Rs. 19,320 crore and is said to be backed by powerful Congress politicians. The CEO of Indiabulls Real Estate Narendra Gehlaut is the son of Krishna Gehlaut, who was earlier a Haryana minister in the Congress government. Narendra Gehlaut is married to Congress MP Jyoti Mirdha, whose sister Shweta is married to Deepinder Hooda, the son of the Haryana Chief Minister. Similarly, Ramprastha Builders has 22 affiliate companies of which 4-5 (Ramprastha Greens, Ramprastha Estates, Ramprastha Buildwell, etc) have procured licences.No room for middle classOn December 19, 2006 — less than two years into Mr. Hooda's first stint as Chief Minister — the Haryana government which had earlier discontinued the grant of licences for cooperative housing societies in high and medium potential zones discontinued cooperative housing schemes even in low potential zones.Another memo dated September 15, 2008, stated, "The licence application of only those Registered Cooperative House Building Societies will be considered for grant of licence who have a collaboration with the builders/developers having the financial capacity to undertake the development and technical expertise in development of residential colonies." Together, these memos ensured that all cooperative housing had to be done in collaboration with a builder, wiping out the cost advantage associated with this category.Between 2006-9, the Haryana government also announced policies for affordable housing to be priced at Rs. 4 lakh, Rs. 12.5 lakh, Rs. 14 lakh and Rs. 16 lakh for different categories. However, according to the Gurgaon Citizens Council (GCC), official responses to RTI queries show that though 10 leading builders were licensed 200 acres of land in Gurgaon alone to build 40,000 dwelling units, till date not a single apartment has been handed over to the end-user. The GCC alleges that this non-construction and change of land-use to general category group housing in these areas have resulted in a benefit of roughly Rs. 4,000 crore to these builders. They have demanded that the Haryana government cancel these licences, launch a probe against corrupt government officials and build these low-cost dwelling units itself through a government agency under the Gurgaon-Manesar Master Plan 2021.The GCC has further alleged a loss of roughly Rs. 8,000 crore to the State exchequer and corresponding gain to private builders by changing age-old norms to allow the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) to acquire land directly from farmers for construction of sector roads. Earlier, builders would acquire the land directly and hand it over to HUDA free of charge along with External Development Charges (EDC) collected from buyers. Though Sectors 1-58 were developed like this, land for roads for Sectors 58-115 was acquired directly by HUDA, resulting in lower gains for farmers from whom the land was procured, while absolving builders of their responsibility of providing land for roads free of charge to the State government.Those operating in the real estate market in Haryana further point to the neglect of the IT sector which got the lowest share of land in Mr. Hooda's tenure, despite it being an employment generator, owing to lower margins and, therefore, lower incentives for the builder lobby to invest.The State has also released 3 Master Plans for Gurgaon in 7 years — 2021, 2025 and 2031 — which the Opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) has alleged was to change land use to favour key individuals and builders. Additionally, while earlier, licences for change of land use were restricted to Gurgaon, Faridabad and Sonepat, under Mr. Hooda, the State has allocated licences in almost every district. This rapid construction has come at the cost of basic amenities like power, water, roads, regulated traffic and adequate policing for Haryana's burgeoning population. INLD leader Om Prakash Chautala has demanded a freeze on award of any new building licences under the proposed Master Plan for 2031 until the existing population is provided this basic infrastructure.Illegal extraction of groundwaterBuilders, who receive environmental clearance for construction of colonies on condition that there will be no impact on water resources, have been drawing groundwater for construction purposes in blatant violation of their licence conditions under the very nose of the Gurgaon administration. Following a High Court Order, a show-cause notice for illegal extraction of groundwater for construction purposes was finally served to a majority of builders on August 14, 2012 by the Haryana TCP.Inexplicably, despite ever widening infrastructure gaps amidst rapid construction activity, the Haryana government has not used the over Rs. 10,000 crore it collected as EDC from builders (who passed the charge on to the end consumer) in the past half decade for creation of basic amenities.
RIP Asad Rehman: 'Chakar Khan' buried in Lahore, remembered in Balochistan
By Sher Khan
Human rights activist Asad Rehman was buried in his family graveyard at Guru Mangat Road on Tuesday evening.
His nephew Taimur Rehman said Asad Rehman had been hospitalised after a heart attack 12-13 days ago. He said his lungs got infected when some fluid built up and his kidney was unable to recover after an operation. He passed away on Monday night.
Rehman, the youngest of a group of Marxists, joined the Baloch guerilla struggle in the 1970s. He was given the name 'Chakkar Khan,' a legendary 15th century Baloch statesman, during his stay in Balochistan.
"Chakar Khan was a name which fit his character," Mir Muhammed Ali Talpur said. Talpur, a columnist and activist, worked as a paramedic during Rehman's stay in Balochistan. "People today are grateful to Asad Rehman… if you visit Facebook today you will see how well he is remembered," he said.
Rehman was part of a generation that had been affected by the break-up of East Pakistan. The silence over the injustices in Bengal and Balochistan had shaken Rehman and he defied his class upbringing to show solidarity with the Baloch during the 1970s insurgency.
"The injustices happening in Balochistan today were happening in the 1970s too. Myself, Asad [Rehman], Rashid [Rehman] and Ahmed Rashid had gone to raise a voice for the Baloch people," Talpur said
Rehman was born in Murree on August 11, 1950. He was the son of late Supreme Court Justice SA Rahman, a member of the Boundary Commission who had worked closely with Pakistan's founding father MA Jinnah and Lord Radcliffe. In 1969, Rehmad left to study architecture in London. Here he became part of the London Group, a study circle formed by young Pakistani Marxists studying in universities in England.
The London Group began publishing a monthly magazine titled Pakistani Nationalist, which provided an alternative perspective to the war in East Pakistan. Later, five members of the London Group quit their studies in England to return to Pakistan and join the Baloch nationalists. The group included Asad Rehman, his brother Rashid Rehman, Ahmed Rashid, Dalip Dass and Najam Sethi. Asad Rehman, Ahmed Rashid and Dalip Dass would go in the mountains to learn the language and culture of the Baloch people and join their struggle. Dass was later killed by the Pakistani security forces while the rest were granted general amnesty under Zia.
His brother Rashid Rehman, editor of Daily Times, said, "Earlier in life, in another avatar, he had been a resistance fighter and guerilla commander in Balochistan who was popularly known as Chakar. When he returned he immersed himself in human rights activism."
"He had been a consistent advocate of Baloch rights. I have been inundated with calls from Baloch friends mourning him as one of their own," Rashid Rehman said.
After returning in 1978, Rehman became a human rights activist associated with Aurat Foundation, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and more recently as an executive director of Sungi.
IA Rehman, a human rights activist and a journalist, said Asad Rehman had worked courageously to defend human rights and never let his support for the Baloch people wither.
"His work will always be remembered. He was part of a group young people who showed solidarity with the Baloch people. Till the very end his friendship with the Baloch people remained," he said.
Being Punjabi like Asad
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Sheikh Asad Rahman breathed his last in an Islamabad hospital on the night of Monday, October 29. He developed a severe heart condition about two weeks ago and struggled under a ventilator before his body systems finally failed him. I had met Asad a day before his heart attack. Appearing fighting fit, he was in his true element, when speaking of human rights movements in Pakistan, reflective when deliberating on development challenges faced by communities in the length and breadth of the country, and passionate while tracing the history of the struggle for the rights of the Baloch people.
Asad worked as a journalist and community development practitioner with a number of institutions before finally becoming executive director of Sungi Development Foundation. For over 40 years he worked and campaigned in various capacities for the realisation of people's rights. He continued writing for newspapers as well, offering succinct political comment. His contribution to the social, labour, women's, minority and cultural movements was consistent all along. But his cause for life since his student days was singular-the cause of the Baloch people and realisation of their inalienable economic, political and social rights. He was fondly called "Chakar Khan" by the Baloch with whom he worked closely in the 1970s. The year 1971 saw him in the mountains of the Marri tribal region. He was accused of ambushing military convoys and securing ammunition for the fighters. Caught, he was jailed and charged with treason. Even after his release he remained fearless and vociferous in his criticism of the policies pursued by the establishment and the marginalisation of the Baloch from mainstream national politics.
What was probably his last column, published in a Lahore newspaper on October 9, Asad wrote: "The 1948, 1958, 1962-68, 1973-77 [periods] and the ongoing violence and civil war were not only expressions of the Baloch resistance to imposition of an alien culture and politico-administrative structure, but a very emphatic movement for their fundamental, human, cultural, social, political and economic rights. Balochistan's political elite have been continuously excluded from policy and decision-making forums, or [are] under-represented due to the population basis used for electing political representation in the National Assembly. While the Senate has equal representation for all provinces, it is not the final policy/decision-making forum as it has no fiscal or political decision-making powers." Further, he argued that it is in the last ten years that the movement for rights within the federation in accordance with the 1940 Lahore Resolution has become a secession movement in Balochistan. The tactics used by the Pakistani establishment, the military and its agencies has brought about this change. Balochistan is seen as a tract of land for strategic and exploitative purposes, a testing ground for nuclear devices and an area rich in mineral ores. It should rather be seen as a land inhabited by our own people with equal rights. Referring to the East Pakistan debacle in his writings, he lamented that the powers that be are incapable of learning from their past mistakes. Or perhaps they do not even have the capability to understand that they committed and continue to commit blunders.
Asad gave credit to his parents for shaping his social and political views. His father, Justice S A Rahman, retired as chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1968. Soon after, Justice Rahman was appointed chairman of the commission that tried Sheikh Mujibur Rehman in the Agartala Conspiracy Case. He was also the chief election commissioner for the 1970 elections, the fairest elections we ever had. It is said that when Sheikh Mujib was finally released, the first person he visited was Justice Rahman. Mujib told him that if her were not its chairman, the tribunal would have hanged him. Asad's mother was a social worker who served women and children from disadvantaged groups until her death. In an interview given to Malik Siraj Akbar three years ago, he said, "I would not describe myself as someone from the elite. In the first place, you have to understand when I went to Balochistan; it was my commitment to work with the poorest, marginalised and disfranchised population of Pakistan..."
By far, Sheikh Asad Rahman was not a self-hating Punjabi. His passion for the Baloch people, fighting for them because he believed they are waging a just struggle and raising his voice for their cause, did not mean he denied his roots. While being bitterly critical of the state dominated by the Punjabi elite and its lopsided policies, he loved the Punjabi people, their culture, their language, and the simple life a common Punjabi leads. He supported the cause of all Pakistani languages and thought that all children have the right to get primary education in their mother tongues. When it came to his community development work, he would want training to be imparted, meetings to be held, and material to be developed in Urdu, rather than in English. It goes without saying that Asad had full command over English. He was sent to the best of schools and colleges of his time by his parents, both in Pakistan and the UK. But he was among those who are against the use of a language for exclusion and perpetuating the power of one small class over all the others. It was not prejudice of one against the other but humanity at large that inspired him.
Today I see that young people from Punjab, particularly those belonging to its elite and affluent middle classes, have so much to learn from people like Sheikh Asad Rahman. Politically, he represented a different Punjab from what we witness now-a pre-Unionist, pre-Muslim League, pre-1947 Punjab. Culturally, he represented a people's Punjab. Politically, the Punjab he belonged to was conscientious, just and pluralistic. A Punjab that would side with Guru Gobind Singh and Dara Shikoh against Aurangzeb Alamgir, a Punjab that would produce Dulla Bhatti and Bhagat Singh. Culturally, the Punjab he belonged to was rich, warm and colourful. While it is also a reflection on the universality and humanity embodied in art vis-a-vis matters of mundane politics, it must also give a sense of pride to Punjabis today that their culture was so inclusive that the family of the greatest hero of Punjabi films, Sultan Rahi, belonged to Saharanpur, UP. The greatest villain, Mustafa Qureshi, is from Hyderabad, Sindh. The first Punjabi film to be released in Pakistan, Neeli, had Santosh Kumar as its hero: the actor came from Lucknow. Punjab produced some of the greatest poets and writers in Urdu, from Iqbal, Manto and Bedi to Noon Meem Rashid, Majeed Amjad and Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Top writers and artists from all over India came and settled in Punjab much before Partition. Just to name a few, Mohammad Hussain Azad, Akhtar Sheerani, Imtiaz Ali Taj and Patras Bukhari had either come to Lahore themselves or their parents moved there. Agha Hashr Kashmiri, the pioneer of Urdu theatre, settled for Amritsar after travelling across the subcontinent, from his native Benares to Bombay.
The life and struggle of Sheikh Asad Rahman reminds us that a politically conscious Punjabi must shun the antics of its own elite-dominated establishment. Remember Habib Jalib singing his poem some years ago: Jaag meray Punjab ke Pakistan chala. (Wake up from slumber, o my Punjab, or else Pakistan is done with.)
The writer is a poet and author based in Islamabad.
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Dear Manzoor sahib,Very sad news of Asad Rehman death, our condolences to family and friends, Please pass on the timing of the Namazi Jenaza in Lahore,Farooq Tariq
On 30 October 2012 00:18, Dr. Manzoor Awan <email@example.com> wrote:
It is sad to hear that Asad Rehman, Executive Director of Sungi has passed away today. He was critically ill due to heart atack and was under treatment in Islamabad. It is a painful news for all of us and we have lost a human rights defender who struggled for the rights of deprived for his whole life, and we also lost a development professional, a colleague and a sincere friend. Let us pray, May Allah Almighty rest his soul in peace, and his family friends and colleagues may bear this loss. Ameen. His Nimaz-i-Jinaza will be held in Lahore tomorrow.
Address in Lahore: House 50, Street 2, Block V, DHA Phase 2 near LUMS, Lahore.
Please share with Asad's friends.
Dr. Manzoor Ahmed Awan
Deputy Executive Director
Sungi Development Foundation
Tel: +92-51-2282481-4; Fax: +92-51-2282485
Head Office: Shimla Hills, Abbottabad, Pakistan
Farooq Tariqmember Federal executive CommitteeLabour Party Pakistan1/D Street 7, Mohammed Nagar, Allama Iqbal R]oad Lahore, Pakistan
A. H. Nayyar
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